A review by tomhill
Tell Me Everything by Cambria Brockman


This is a really well-plotted thriller. If I was awarding star ratings based on different components of the book, I think I would give the plot construction four stars. Same for the overall chilling tone, and the way that Brockman builds suspense so effectively by jumping around in time. I often don't like the constant time hops in novels, I tend to think of it as trendy but often ineffective. But it really worked here. Tell Me Everything seems to be inspired by (among others) The Secret History, which is a great thriller with literary ambitions (or maybe more accurately, a great literary novel with thriller elements). But this novel is pretty much focused on just being a strong thriller, and it is mostly. And it's definitely more Gillian Flynn than James Patterson. The second half of the book is really good, and this is when the plot begins to gain steam and things start to come together, and even though as a reader you're pretty sure you know what's going to happen, you can't stop turning the pages. The writing style, which I didn't like at first, also improves greatly in the second half of the novel. I spend too much time thinking about Goodreads ratings. They don't really matter, few people look at them, and opinions on books can and should change with reflection. I'd say this is a 3.5* book for me, a solid B+. In some ways, a book like this, despite some flaws (some characters lack development, the first half of the book felt very expository, the sometimes less than polished writing style) is the best kind of book for discussion. I want other people to read it just so I can talk to them about it. Just look at this rambling review I've written! This book's flaws make it interesting, because in contrast its strengths shine that much more. Maybe it's my affection for campus-set novels or for Nick Carraway/Richard Papen type protagonists. But mostly, I think it has to do with the protagonist here, and the "aha moment" I had as a reader when I saw what Brockman had been up to the whole time, how stealthily she built her central character.